By Diana Bowley of the Bangor Daily News - DEXTER - Having separate entrances in the proposed new SAD 46 elementary-middle school for younger and older pupils seemed like a good idea to local people, but to state education officials it spelled trouble.
It was the only significant change in the concept plan requested by the Department of Education in a recent meeting, according to SAD 46 Superintendent Kevin Jordan.
In view of incidents that have occurred at others schools in the nation, state officials felt it would be harder to monitor the comings and goings if there were two entrances, Jordan said Thursday.
Otherwise, state officials are "very happy" with the concept plan, Jordan said. "It fits the vision of the state of Maine's education consolidation," he said.
The proposed $30 million school is planned off Fern Road and funded mostly by state money. The move will close outlying elementary schools.
Jordan said he will return to Augusta on Dec. 20 with a revised concept plan to show one entrance. The cost of the new school, which embraces a neighborhood design that groups younger children together on the first floor and older children on the second floor, also will be discussed.
Included in the concept plan are two classrooms for pre-kindergarten classes, a program approved by directors Wednesday. Jordan anticipates 60 children will be served when the program starts in September 2009.
The idea is to offer half-day programs and limit the class size to 15 pupils, therefore operating two classes in the morning and two classes in the afternoon, he said.
This program will give those children not served by Head Start the same opportunities, according to Jordan. "It will give those kids a jump-start to their education," he said.
It is anticipated that a public hearing on the proposed new school will be held later this month and a straw vote taken the first week in January, according to Jordan.
Dexter, Garland, Exeter and Ripley voters are expected to vote on the project during a referendum the last week in February.
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